A Pioneer Network Guide to the Holidays

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Joan Devine, Director of Education

Here we are in the midst of the holiday season, this season of giving, when we take the time to stop and cherish our friends and family, celebrating with parties and gift-giving.

As I think about what this means, I can’t help but think that the true spirit of the season is just what we as Pioneers are about every day — Person-Centeredness. And what better guide to person-centeredness than the Pioneer Network Values and Principles.

And so, I hope you enjoy this Pioneer Network Guide to the Holidays:

Know Each Person: This one is easy. It really does help if I know who you are before I decide on that perfect gift for you or plan a celebration that will be fun and meaningful for you.

Each Person Can and Does Make a Difference: It’s the people in our lives that make a difference each and every day that we celebrate and share gifts with during this season. And the beauty of this is that as we celebrate and share with them, we are making a difference in their lives as well.

Relationship is the fundamental building block of a transformed culture: This one is not quite as obvious to connect but think about this. The “culture” of the season is centered around giving. In all the different ways that we give during this season, remember that giving doesn’t have to cost anything. The real gift is that we are building relationships and a culture of giving that can last far beyond the holiday season.

Respond to the spirit, as well as mind and body: Now this one, I believe, is obvious — this season is all about responding to the spirit!

Risk taking is a normal part of life: Have you ever found that crazy, unique gift that you think is perfect, but a little out of the box? What if they don’t like it? And how about all the silly hats we wear and party games we play. Will everyone like them? Maybe not, but it sure can be fun taking that risk!

Put person before task: For all of you out there who HATE to shop or bake or decorate, remember, it’s not about the task you are doing, but the joy that will come to the person you are doing it for. And with that in mind, it’s ok to keep it simple. Cookies and candies can be store bought, decorations can be simple and can be done from the convenience of your home. (Did you know that if you shop on AmazonSmile you can give to Pioneer Network as you shop?)

All elders are entitled to self-determination wherever they live: Perhaps I am really stretching it but consider this. We believe that elders are entitled to the same rights and privileges as anyone else, so if elders are entitled to self-determination, then we all are. We each get to determine how we want to celebrate the holiday season.

Community is the antidote to institutionalization: This to me is one of the things that brings so much joy to people during this holiday season as we come together for parties and celebrations that bring community together. It is a season to celebrate and value community.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you: Think of what brings you joy and spread it around!

Promote the growth and development of all: Keep this one simple — give educational gifts! (Hey, they can be a lot of fun!!)

Shape and use the potential of the environment in all its aspects: Physical, organizational, psycho/social/spiritual: A little tricky, but consider this. We can make some great gifts using what is in the environment — Pinterest is full of ideas like making a birdhouse using bird seed!

Practice self-examination, searching for new creativity and opportunities for doing better:  Consider what you have to give and if times are tough, don’t get stressed out, it’s ok to keep giving simple. Be creative and remember most of the best gifts come from the heart, not the store.

Recognize that culture change and transformation are not destinations but a journey, always a work in progress: How about if you substitute “the holiday season” for the words “culture change and transformation.” There is so much build up to the special days we celebrate, but this season is not about one day — it’s not a “one and done” — not if we are doing it right. It’s a spirit that lives within us all year. It’s creating memories that shape not only future holidays but our lives. It’s part of the bigger journey.

Happy Holidays — and Enjoy!